Mostly Martha

Movie review by
Sarah Wenk, Common Sense Media
Mostly Martha Movie Poster Image
German film about finding family.
  • PG
  • 2001
  • 106 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
Violence

One scene of Martha and her neice slapping each other.

Sex
Language

Strong language (in German) with subtitles.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film deals honestly with a young child who loses her only parent. It is handled carefully, but the emotional impact is considerable. There is one very angry fight between Martha and her niece, but nothing too far outside the realm of normal family fights. There is a smattering of strong language.

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What's the story?

This film, made in Germany, tells the story of Martha (Martina Gedeci), a brilliant chef who relates better to food than to people. She is so obsessed with food that it's all she talks about with her therapist. But when her sister is killed in a car accident, she must take care of her 8 year old niece, Lina (Maxime Foerste). Their struggle to adjust to each other, to come to terms with their grief, and to learn to make a new life together is funny, moving and unusual. Food plays a central role in the film. It is Martha's only real connection to the world, though that starts to change when Mario (Sergio Castellitto), also a very talented chef, comes to work at her restaurant.

Is it any good?

The film has a nearly perfect balance of comedy and drama, is beautifully acted and directed, and very satisfying. Gedeci is particularly good as a woman who is trying to break out of the restrictions she's placed on herself – we see her emotions play across her face with complete believability.

Young children may not enjoy this movie – it's in German with English subtitles, and deals largely with adult themes. But older children will enjoy it, and it might even awaken a desire to cook wonderful gourmet food. Unlike many American films it is subtle and sophisticated, making its points without broad comedy or clichéd speeches to drive the message home. Everything about it feels authentic and natural, and viewers will feel that they've met real people, not just movie characters.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how people become a family. What made the difference for Martha and Lina? Why was Martha more involved with cooking than with people? And how did Mario start to change that for her? There is also ample material for talking about food, how it can be more than just nourishment, and how obsessed people can become with it.

Movie details

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